Letter 14

28/12/2012 17:23

        26th December 2012

        Dear Catherine,

I have been playing with Amadea & Chloe and they have now gone up to bed so I am on my own again and so I thought I would tell you about the things I do at home.  There have been many big changes since you & I parted company.  So I will fill in a few bits. 

First I will mention my physical activities.  I started to play tennis at a local club, three and a half years ago.  I used to play at school between the ages of 12 and 17, but had not played since then.  The club house is close to where I live at present and some friends invited me to come along to give it a try. So I started and found I enjoy it a lot.  It gives me a chance to have a bit of run around.  It has also introduced me to a lot of new friends.  One family, Olga & Phil live just around the corner to me at present and I spend a bit of time with them, and their children Anthony, Rita & Anya.  Rita goes to Sacred Heart school, you will remember her from the Hill Club probably.  She likes art and has even done some sketches of me.  I usually play on Saturday & Sunday afternoons and sometimes on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings.  I go to the Hill Club most Friday evenings for a swim, like I have for over 20 years.  The station I use to go to work on M to F is 15 minutes walk away, so I walk 3 Km on work days; meaning I am taking enough exercise and am probably the same weight as when you saw me last, if not slightly lighter.

I am president of the Harrow branch of the St Vincent de Paul society.  This aims to offer help to anyone locally who is in trouble financially.  We don’t have a lot of funds so our activities are low key, often limited to house visits; although we have made money available to people we felt were in need.  One of my biggest tasks over the year is to organise a meal for Harrow Pensioners every Christmas.  This year it was on Saturday 8th December and held in the scout’s hall, behind the church & St Anselm’s school.  There were 80 pensioners to cater for.  I had to make all the arrangements but there were many willing helpers to cook the vegetables & make preparations, a local restaurant donated the turkey, stuffing & gravy and the scouts helped serving up the meals.  It was a huge success and most important, all the pensioners were very thankful.  I am also trustee of a mental health charity called Brent MIND in Kilburn.  That involves a meeting every month and occasional visits to deal with some issue or other.  I enjoy both of these activities, which I have done since I resigned as a governor of Sacred Heart school.

I have become friendly with a chap in North Wembley again after about 8 years or so.  We used to visit then occasionally and you attended a nursery school with one of their daughters Genevieve. You were only about 5 then, so you may not remember, but Mike & Teresa remember you & Genevieve thinks she does.  She is the same age as you, she goes to Cardinal Vaughan school and wants to be an opera singer.  Last time I was there she sang for me and she has a lovely voice.  It will be difficult to become a successful opera singer but she is determined to try.  They have an older daughter called Lucy who is now 21 and has had a very difficult life since about 16.  She started to keep company with a crowd who took drugs and became pregnant.  The father of the child was too young and could not support the child and Lucy brought the child home.  But she continued to take drugs often leaving the house overnight with the baby in Teresa’s care, until eventually she left home and to live elsewhere, not caring for the baby.  Because they did not feel Lucy was a fit mother for their grandchild, Mike & Teresa applied for and were granted temporary parental responsibility for the baby who now is 4 years old and living with them.  Lucy then became pregnant again, had another baby and is living with the father who also abuses drugs.  Isn’t that a terrible mess and tragedy?

I have become friendly with a lady who I meet on the train to work on Mondays and Tuesdays.  I used to help her put her pushchair on the train with her two young children, as she always got on the train at the same place as me.  I didn’t even speak to her until one morning, when she was busy with the younger girl, she plonked the older one, age 3 on a seat beside me.  She just looked at me and I, down at her, said hello and not another word until we arrived at Euston station.  In the next few weeks, the little girl was sat down beside me every day, until she asked to sit beside me.  I would try to amuse her by drawing something or looking at one of her books her mum passed to her.  I then occasionally spoke to the mum.  She told me the little girl was called Tilly.  So every morning we met, Tilly would look out for me and when we arrived she wanted me to take her off the train, in fact wanted me to carry her once when she was upset.  Her husband used to come on to the platform to see the girls on to the train and I became friendly with him as well.  On thr train I looked after Tilly while mum took care of the young one.  When we arrived, I would to walk right out of the station with them chatting to mum, until they went their way, to Great Ormond St hospital and I went in the opposite direction to work.  In November, she asked me to come to the younger girl’s birthday, as they had moved quite close to where I live.  Just before Christmas it was Tilly’s birthday and she invited me again to a bigger party and I met all their friends and parents.  Amazingly I have made new friends through a chance meeting on the train.  I would really love you to meet Tilly and her mum.  Zara has already.  It is one of my prayers that we can all meet in friendliness sometime soon.

Brendan, Iveta, Amadea & Chloe arrived yesterday evening, so I am no longer alone.  I mentioned that Chloe has type 1 diabetes.  I discovered a lot more about this illness today watching poor 4 year old Chloe.  The sugar level in her blood is constantly monitored by a device attached to her behind.  An alarm rings if the level is too low or too high, but the parents can check it with a wireless device.  I watched her have an insulin injection – she was so brave she didn’t even flinch.  Again I wish you were here to be with them.

As I write, I realise that I have no idea how you are or what you are doing.  I would love to hear from you and always want you to know that if you wish, you are welcome to contact me.  It’s getting late and I must go to bed.  I hope to write one more letter before I come home from the Czech Republic on 6th January.


        All my love for now,

        dad  xxx                                                                            in Vysoke, Czech Republic